Winter is Coming, to Rochester

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

I am from India, a land where a tropical climate is the norm for most parts of the country. I am from the southern part of India, where temperatures range between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I had never seen temperatures below 32degrees, let alone see snow!

When I received my admit from RIT, I was thrilled to be starting grad school. Family members and friends who were aware of the weather in the Northeastern US used to tell me about the inclement weather that awaited me here but I figured, if it is an inhabited place, it cannot be that bad. I mean, why would humans choose to live in such a climate if it was so difficult to live in.

I first arrived in Rochester in the month of July, a time and weather that I learned later were like rays of sunshine on a cold, dreary winter day! As the fall season started, temperatures gradually dropped from the 70s to the 50s, I soon realized what I was in for in a few months. When the first snow fell during Thanksgiving week, it was such a beautiful sight. That snowfall was unexpected so even though it was not a lot, RIT had given us a snow day and classes were cancelled. I thought that maybe this (about 6-10 inches) was a lot of snow and was the limit, which explained the snow day. I was so wrong! The next few months I saw snow on the ground which didn’t melt for weeks, a snowstorm which halted all movement for 72 hours due to nearly 4 feet of snow everywhere, and a freak windstorm (winds reached ~80 mph) which knocked out power for large areas in Rochester for nearly 96 hours.

The winter months in Rochester can get quite gloomy and take some getting used to. Once the daylight savings were disabled in November, the sun set by 4:30 PM which disoriented me to no end the first few days. The days can get bright enough at times to fool first-timers like me to think that the sun’s warmth could be felt.

I was excited by all the snow the first few weeks, and I was impressed by how smooth life went on despite the climate. Roads and walkways were cleared well enough for commuting to be possible. Eventually, I got used to the snow-covered landscape everywhere I went, and though the cold did not go away till May, I kind of missed it when the summer came around. I guess I cannot wait for the next round of biting cold, snow, thick jackets, gloomy skies, and foggy breaths.

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The Animation Show of Shows Night

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

On November 9th, I went to a special screening called Animation Show of Shows in Carlson Auditorium. The show is an annual traveling selection of award-winning animated shorts that are from all over the world. As a visual communication designer who has majored in film and media in college, I am a huge fan of this kind of event. You are exposed to so many new ideas and eye-opening art pieces, which really make you think.

The show has been going on since 1988. The curator of the show, Ron Diamond, who is also the founder at Acme Filmworks, is so passionate about watching and picking fine animated short films. I was so impressed by his story of spending a whole 7 years on restoring a 1963 animated film Hangman in high resolution format, just because he saw the film when he was young and deeply loved it. Now with funding they raised on Kickstarter, the team is able to share fantastic films with the world.

Some of the shorts presented were from some amazing studios and artists such as Inside Out director Pete Docter, Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant along with John Williams. Here are some links of the animated films or their trailers that I really enjoyed from the show:

TINY BIG by Lia Bertels (Belgium)

DEAR BASKETBALL by Glen Keane (U.S.)

ISLAND by Robert Löbel & Max Mörtl (Germany)

UNSATISFYING by Parallel Studio (France)

THE BURDEN by Niki Lindroth von Bahr (Sweden)

OUR WONDERFUL NATURE – THE COMMON CHAMELEON by Tomer Eshed (Germany)

If you didn’t attend the event this year, I highly recommend attending next year! It’s just so fun to sit with friends and family at a show that would take your love of animation to another level! If you enjoy and want to help The Animation Show of Shows, please show extra support for the event!

And their official website is: https://www.animationshowofshows.com/

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A sneak peak into my life…

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

The clock is ticking and the blog post is due in a few hours and I am running across campus to get to the library and finish my work. As I dash through the cold air to start working on the post, I bump into friends who wave and smile. In my head as I try to find a space in the library, I scold myself for procrastinating yet again and continue to open my laptop whilst thinking about my topic for this week.

After several debates with the little angel and devil on either side of my shoulder, I make up my mind to write about an average week in my life. Well the first thing I can think about is my classes and considering the fact that my major is Computer Science I have to really speak about the copious amount of homework that we are given every week. Out of the three courses that I am taking this semester, one of them is research intensive course and other two are high level graduate courses that require me to spend a lot time apart from the class and homework time. My days are filled with me reading research papers in the domain that I am working on and also working on an open problem which would help me validate my learning. If I am not in my classes or reading research papers as I walk across the campus, you will find me working on campus at either the Library or the Graduate Enrollment offices. The best part about working at these places is that you get to work with amazing people who are less colleagues and more friends. If I am working at the library, I get to work with a team that takes cares of the daily functioning of the library and if I am at the Graduate Enrollment office, I work with a team that is trying to help prospective students in understanding if RIT is the right fit for them. The thing that stands out to me at either of these places are my bosses who treat me as an equal and a friend. There are days when I just drop by their office and chat about life and they are always there to help me or just listen to me babble about my life.

Finally, as an elected representative, Graduate Senator, I work with the Student Government to represent the entire graduate community at RIT. In this role, I work with various offices/committees at RIT like the Office of Graduate Education, Co-op Services, Graduate Council, University Council, etc. It gives me a chance to be a voice for the graduate students at RIT and present the issues at the council meetings or to the heads of the offices/departments. Although it has been a very short time since I started working in this role, what makes me truly passionate about my work is knowing that I help improve the experience of graduate students at RIT. Although it sounds like I have a lot on my plate, never did it stop me from going out with my buddies on a Friday night or watching the latest superhero film (I am a Marvel Fan, Shhh..!). In my 15 months of being at RIT, I transitioned from a graduate student who used to be overwhelmed with homework to a graduate senator who is overwhelmed with homework and a lot of other work. During this transition, I made several friends and learnt things that I could have never learnt in any other place. All I want to say is that, graduate school is tough but you can always enjoy as long as you plan your time well. Umm, I am pretty sure I am running late to my next class so I got to run (*so much for good time management*).

Ciao!

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Just a City Boy

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

Born and raised in New York City (sorry South Detroit,) life started to look a lot different when I committed to play basketball at Houghton College, a small liberal arts school in upstate New York. I remember the drive up when I was first getting dropped off. We stopped seeing civilization a good hour before reaching the school. It was an endless scene of fields, farms, livestock, and the occasional Amish buggy. I vividly remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The first month was the most challenging. Other than the general struggles of making new friends and adapting to college, there are a lot of cultural differences between living in a small town and living in a city. For starters, everyone says hello. I always thought that I was a polite person for smiling if I made random eye contact with a stranger, but this was a new extreme. I kind of liked it. It was a little act, took minimum effort, but for some reason made you feel slightly more at home.

People also seemed kinder, and had a genuine interest in you. There wasn’t a big rush, or an urgency about everything. It was very different for me. I had developed habits that were completely opposite of this kind of living. My walking and driving never quite adapted. Eighteen years in the city and you develop a speed walk that’s the equivalent to a regular man’s jog. My friends were often telling me to slow down through ragged breaths. As for driving, I can’t count the amount of times someone drove with me and never asked for another ride. It’s the fast and furious in the city, the yellow cabs are merciless…

There are countless other examples of cultural differences that I encountered, but they all came together to paint one big picture for me. We have all experienced life differently growing up. Our countries, families, environments, religions, and homes, have all played a role in the way we view things. As we experience these different cultures, there are a lot of important things to learn from the way other people view and do things. At the same time, going somewhere new will often show you things about yourself that you might have never noticed. It doesn’t have to be a new country or change of scenery, it could simply be a different group or new friend. Regardless of what’s new, enjoy the different perspective, embrace it, and learn from it. There’s no better time than now.

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7 Things to do this Thanksgiving Break

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

Staying in Rochester this Thanksgiving? Worry not, we got you covered. Here’s a list of things that you can do if you aren’t going home. If you make it to the entire list, or want to share your experience at one of the events, please share your story with us at gradstudent@rit.edu.

1. RIT’s Global Unification
Happening this Saturday, November 18 from 7 pm – 9 pm, Global Unification is the largest multicultural event here at RIT. Immerse yourself in the vivid performances from various cultural clubs and experience the spectacle that highlights the cultural and ethnic diversity at RIT. Check out the event details.

2. Concert: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Staying in Rochester and not attending a concert? That’s un-Rochester-like. The American rock-band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is having a concert at the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday, November 22. How often you get to hear them perform live the Wizards of Winter or Sarajevo/Christmas Eve? Event details here.

3. Thanksgiving Meal at The Commons
Don’t feel like going anywhere? Get to The Commons on Thursday, November 23rd with your friends and savor the traditional Thanksgiving Meal prepared with love and warmth by the wonderful chefs. Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm.

4. Enjoy some Southern food at Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is an interesting place where you can enjoy classic homestyle Southern food along with shopping gifts for the Christmas. Their Country-store-like shop has all the fun merchandise that takes you down to the childhood memory lane. Make sure you go through their Music collection and don’t miss to check out those antiquities hanging around in the store and the restaurant. The hash brown casserole is a must try. Location: 2075 Hylan Dr., Rochester, NY 14623. Hours open: 7 am – 10 pm

5. Remember Rembrandt at Memorial Art Gallery
What about time-traveling 5000 years in art history? Memorial Art Gallery has a permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects ranging from medieval to contemporary times; including works by Rembrandt, Monet, Homer, Cézanne, Matisse, El Greco, Cassatt, William Congdon. MAG includes a large number of women artists from era’s when sexism made participation in arts educations an exception. George Eastman’s collection is a must-see along with their current exhibition of Wendell Castle Remastered. Did you know that student ID can get you admission tickets at a reduced rate? I know you are excited. Here’s the location: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

6. Black Friday Shopping!
How can shopping not be part of this list? Drive or take an Uber to Eastview Mall-30 minutes drive from RIT-located in Victor, NY, is a great place to shop all those fancy brands along with enjoying some food with your friends. Don’t forget to buy yourself those warm and cozy Christmas themed plush pajamas. Location: 7979 Pittsford Victor Rd, Victor, NY 1456

7. Marvel vs. DC?
Marvel or DC, Thanksgiving is the time to support both. Watch Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League and, get into a debate again. No matter what the debate is, I’ll still be a Marvel fan. 😛

Happy Thanksgiving!

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RIT’s Career Fair – Tips to Succeed!

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

There are places which can make us feel good and there are places which makes us feel energetic. What can be a better sight than seeing bees harvesting the nectar from the beautiful flowers of contrasting colors. Or walking around the university campus on a nice evening with an orange sun shining over your face from the best possible photographic angle. Turn your head and you’ll find smart individuals with their individual personalities shining bright as the sun. Individuals known as students. Recently the RIT campus changed to a place where you’ll see grown up people in nice & decent attire and a folder in their hand. It’s the career fair day! It might be a life changing experience for some. For others it would be a lesson worth embracing. Long story short, it’s a big day for students!

Career fairs can be a chaos if not planned properly. Many factors must be synchronized to make it work for you. Prior information, planning and a little bit of insight is always helpful for tackling what’s coming. With of pool of more than 250 companies coming in, career fairs themselves test your managerial skills before any prospective employer interviews you. Following are few of the key things to be kept in mind for making this chaos work for you.

Plan everything prior to the big day! Shortlist the companies that suite you. RIT’s website and mobile app can be very handy when it comes to shortlisting. Prepare a general introduction and work on it. Read about the companies and the work they do. Figure out about what positions they are offering. Learn about the specific skills the employer possibly will be looking for.

Prepare a specific and relevant resume. It is always good to have a general resume. What will help you getting a call for a position is a specific resume. Make sure that your resume has enough matching keywords the employer is looking for. You have to present your skills differently to different employers. Although it may be the same set of skills you’ll be putting in your resume, customize the layout and content to meet the employer’s needs.

Managing your time is essential! You will not be the only one engaging in nice conversations with the representatives. It is quite possible that there will be a line and delay in a few of your shortlisted targets. For a career fair running for 6 hours it’s a good estimation that you’ll be spending at least 20 minutes with one of your shortlisted companies. This gives you an upper limit of engaging with 9 companies if you plan to attend the fair for 3 hours. The previous paragraph will help you saving a significant amount of time here.

Be professional and enthusiastic! This really helps even if you are not good at your coursework. Showcasing a little bit of humor always makes you memorable. Talk as much as you can about your interests and doings which can be relevant and make an impression on the representative you are talking to. Ask them question about what positions they have. Even if there is nothing you fit into, ask about the possibilities of you being useful.

Getting through day one is easy! The reason behind this is, most of the representative you’ll talk to on day one probably is not the actual recruiters. You just have to be good at presentation to get an interview call which you can manage with the expertise you have in your field.

Career fairs are the very first steps towards the big and competitive world outside the RIT campus. It’s a day that teaches you how to seek an opportunity and a lesson on how to improve if you were not able to. It’s a day that makes you wear formal shoes & taste how it feels like presenting yourself to the world. We all face extraordinary challenges in our lives. The realization of the beauty of standing those challenges starts with this day.

 

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Fun Places for New RITers to Hang Out

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned some clubs and activities for people to explore and join in the greater-Rochester community, but what about fun places for people who are new to the place to hang out with some family and friends? I was having the same question, but now I have a small list of fun local places that I want to share with you all, thanks to my birthday party planning.

It was my birthday last week, so my friends and I wanted to take a break from our homework assignments and go celebrate it somewhere. We did some research and found some really interesting places. We had a fantastic time at two places, which I will introduce below, and I am also going to recommend some other good ones that are on my list.

We first went to a place called the Playhouse & Swillburger, and it’s located between the Southwedge and Swillburg neighborhoods. Swillburger has a classic/modern mixed style to itself. The outside of the building appears to be an old historical building, but the interior is a mix of bar, arcade games, and a classic American burger joint (all locally sourced burgers, tots, and milkshakes). If you are coming with a group of friends and want to spend a fun night together, this will be a perfect pick!

The second place we went to is called Radio Social. It’s located in Rochester’s historical Stromberg-Carlson warehouse and was originally used as a radio factory. There are many colorful vintage receivers on the wall near the entrance. It’s a huge spot that features 34 bowling lanes, lounge areas, two bars and a restaurant, plus a variety of indoor and outdoor games. There’s just so much to do in one place! So again, if you have a group of people, you would all love Radio Social.
Another restaurant that I really want to visit is Genesee Brew House. I heard that they’ve got a variety of craft brews you could enjoy a nice view of high falls when the patio is open. And some other restaurants/entertainment center on my lists are: The Owl House, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, The Revelry, Lento, Nosh, Clubhouse Fun Center. So if you have a chance, why don’t you just bring your friends with you and go explore those fun places!

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RIT’s Wellness Courses: Sprinkle in some Recreation

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

It’s 10 months into 2017, but that resolution to learn a new sport or a martial art, maybe explore a different dance form, or those promises about keeping yourself fit, all are collecting dust, just like the archives.

Well, RIT cares about its precious Tigers! How? Under the Wellness Education Program, RIT offers more than 550 Wellness courses over the entire academic year in the following 8 disciplines: Dance, Fitness, Health and Life Support, Health and Wellness Seminars, Martial Arts, Outdoor Education, Recreation, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

So, what all are the options in each discipline? (I have attempted to cover as many as I can, but please refer to the official page for more information about the courses.)

Dance Forms: Ballet, Ballroom, Argentine Tango, Country Line, Hip Hop, Irish Step, Jazz, Latin, Musical Theatre & Dance, Swing, Tap.

Health: CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, Stress Management, Life Support Fitness – Financial, Social, Nutritional.

Physical Fitness: Bootcamp, Cardio Strength, Core & Abs, Kickboxing, Ninja, Pilates, Swimming, Training – Personal/Weight, Turbokick, Yoga, Zumba.

Martial Arts: Aikido, Kali, Karate; Kung Fu, Qigong, Self Defense, Sparring, Tai Chi, Warrior Workout.

Outdoor activities: Backpacking, Beekeeping, Canoe Camping, Indoor/Ice Climbing, Hiking, Leave No Trace Trainer, Mountain Biking, Outdoor Leadership, Indoor/Outdoor Rock Climbing, Snowshoeing Whitewater Kayaking, Wilderness – First Aid/Survival.

Recreation: Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Diving, Dodgeball, Flag Football, Freshwater Fly Fishing, Golf, Horseback – English/Western, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Fencing, Pickleball, Pocket Billiards, Racquetball, Skiing and Snowboarding, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Yard Games.

ROTC: Army (leadership drills and leadership lab), Air Force (physical training and leadership lab) and Navy.

Let’s look into the logistics now. Being graduate students, you don’t get credits for these courses and hence, it doesn’t affect your grades! These courses run semester-long. The enrollment procedure is similar to any other academic courses and you can find these courses by the four-letter code of the discipline it belongs to. It costs $100 for each course you take.

I have taken the Zumba and Latin dance class this semester. It’s really fun and a good way to refresh yourself from the usual academics. If you have any questions regarding these, feel free to reach out to me.

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Living 8431 Miles Away From Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“RIT Admission Decision” read the email on my phone and I started hearing my own heartbeat which was thumping against my chest in anticipation of some good news. After the longest 5 seconds of my life I see the word Congratulations in the email and I was overcome with joy at that moment. I spent the next few months listening to suggestions from friends and family about the things I need to be packing and so I did, with bags packed full of spices, clothes and every possible article I would need to start my life in the land of opportunities. It took a whopping twenty-six hour flight journey with multiple stops in London and JFK before I finally got to Rochester, which was going to be my home for the next couple of years.

The transition of my life from India to the USA was a rather interesting one because all the knowledge from watching TV Shows like Friends or Full House never really came to my aid in navigating through the experiences I had at RIT. The three biggest transition phases that I went through are food, culture, and school. Growing up, I loved different cuisines. As someone who loves cooking I was blown away with the choices we had in the US – Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, and every possible chain that I heard about were my restaurant choices in the beginning. Later, thanks to Yelp and my friends, I started tasting different food like pho, ramen, and pollo guisado. A year later I am still delighted by the wonderful desserts and different dishes that I try on a regular basis. But, no matter what I come from the land of spices so I miss the spicy authentic Indian food.

Coming to the next biggest transition was the obvious cultural difference that I anticipated and experienced. I made friends at my different work places within RIT and I started hanging out with people from America. They were always welcoming and made me feel that they wanted me here which made me feel very happy and helped me get over my homesickness. I have a bunch of people who are a huge part of my life right now that have come into my life after my move to the United States and I just call them my American family. The Rochester community in particular is warm and I loved the way people greet each other or maybe just smile which is very helpful when you are having a really stressful day.

Finally, the school life in USA is completely different from what I experienced in India. The coursework is pretty intensive filled with tons of homework, quizzes and exams which kind of overwhelmed me in the beginning. But today after finishing a couple of semesters at RIT and interning over the summer I am happy to go through a rigorous coursework which has prepared me to face any technical challenges at work or in my research. I spend my time reading research papers or talking to peers about new advancements in my field which help me in chalking a better path for my future. The transitions were tough but very needed and I have wonderful people around me at RIT to thank for the support. Despite the fact that I miss home and family every single moment I believe this country which is giving me an opportunity to grow professionally and personally has become my second home. But as the wonderful poet Maya Angelou says “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”

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Reflections on Being a Student of Life

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Almost all of us agree on the fact that good things come to us by some sort of hardship. Majority of us would nod our heads when the words like “discipline”, “commitment”, “determination”, etc. are used to explain what a success story consists of. On the contrary, as our world is huge, anything is possible and there are people who can deny this fact. But then, a wise soul always knows what is right and above all, where the truth resides. Truth needs no proof, it exists. It thrives without any acknowledgement. But the truth that most of us know is not complete or, at-least, the most general version of the it. The strong vocabulary that we use to narrate success and the hard ways to achieve it is simply a side effect of the omnipresent truth; truth which we know as love.

Have you ever noticed successful people narrating their success stories? There is a little, but a very powerful secret, hidden in every single story. You would never find the narration in a sense of hardship, difficulty, obstacles or any other passive terms. It will always in terms of “I tried this…, “I failed this…”, “I did this…”, “it turned out to be…”, etc. It is us, the audience, who perceives how much difficult the journey would have been. Every quality one requires to succeed in what one seeks falls into place automatically with just one magical emotion, love; love for what we are doing, love for what we want to do. You can eventually see how everything else lines up so swiftly once you start pursuing your true love.

Even though this sounds very simple, there is a major offset at the very first step. And the manifestation of it is what is called “finding out our true love”. If you give this a little thought you’ll find that it is the foundation stone of almost everything that had been done or is in progress in the world which we exist. And if the foundation stone is laid in not-a-correct manner, not-good things are supposed to follow. This is a perfect state for us to identify whether we are on the correct path. A person in true love with his doings takes the not-good things as a constructive experience towards what he wants to do. This decision is not due to any personal factor of that individual, it is due to the strong love. A student’s life is all about this pursuit of finding the true love. It is hard being a student because a student is a device that allows passage of gigantic amount of information through his mind, heart and soul and it is always difficult to find a needle in the hay right! A student is a responsibility of his own. There are many practices that can help a student to be clear in their thoughts. Clarity of thoughts helps a student to identify the proper thing for him.

Even a one mile walk from my home to my class presents me with countless challenges. Not just the physical ones but psychological ones too. That’s the only bad thing of being part of such a diverse campus. But as I stated earlier, standing on to these challenges is what make me, or anyone, as diverse as the student community of which I am a part of. Being a student is not just about going to calls, taking exams, building a good GPA & getting a nice job, being a student is about learning life and the synchronicity in its diversity. Ever other part of our lives is designated with some fancy word but we all essentially are students of some kind.

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